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Remains ID'd of 2 Indiana brothers killed at Pearl Harbor

U.S. military personnel spent 80 years trying to identify the brothers and other crewmen who were killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Credit: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. military scientists have identified the remains of two Indiana brothers who were killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Monday it had identified the remains of 24-year-old Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class Harold F. Trapp and 23-year-old Navy Electrician's Mate 3rd Class William H. Trapp.

The brothers were La Porte, Indiana natives who were assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma. On Dec. 7, 1941, they were aboard the battleship when it was attacked by a Japanese aircraft. 

Credit: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Monday it had identified the remains of 24-year-old Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class Harold F. Trapp and 23-year-old Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class William H. Trapp.

The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. 429 crewmen, including the Trapp brothers, died in the attack. 

It was a long road to identifying their remains. For three years after the attack, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were taken to cemeteries in Hawaii. 

In 1947, their bodies were exhumed in an effort to identify some of the fallen crewmen. However, laboratory staff were only able to identify 35 men from the USS Oklahoma and the rest of the unidentified crewmen were buried and later classified as non-recoverable, including the Trapp brothers. 

Then, in 2015, the unidentified crewmen's remains were exhumed again for analysis. Years later, scientists were able to identify the two brothers. 

The Trapp brothers will be buried on June 15, 2021, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl.